Jeff Bezos is an American Techpreneur, investor, and philanthropist. He is best known as the founder, CEO and chairman of the largest online retailer, Amazon.

Net Worth: 139.5 billion $
Age: 54 Years
Born: January 12, 1964
Country of Origin: United States Of America
Source Of Wealth: entrepreneur, investor, founder, chairman, and CEO of Amazon
Children: 4
Spouse: MacKenzie Bezos
Last Updated: 2018

How he began? (A Short Biography)

While pioneering online retailing gave Bezos a huge title, his attentiveness and resourcefulness made a name for him while he was still young.

He found ways to solve problems by creating innovative solutions such as an alarm to keep off troublemakers and exiting comfort to pursue his dream online store when the internet wasn’t famous.

But Bezos gave Amazon a shot anyway, starting his virtual bookstore from a garage, risking his parents’ life savings and grew it into a billion dollar corporation that delivers a wide variety of products to clients all over the world.

He believed,

‘If you want to be inventive, you have to be willing to fail.”

So he failed his way forward and revolutionized how shopping is done.

With more people benefiting from Amazon today, Bezos continues to excel in growing his business, providing comfort to shoppers and earning himself billions all the way to the ‘the richest man in the world’ position. He continues to obsess his customers with new initiatives while his competitors watch his next move in disbelief. Bezos never stops, he insists,

“All businesses need to be forever.”

 

How Did He start?

Though the internet wasn’t celebrated at the time he graduated from Princeton University, Bezos’ entry into the computer world was well-timed. Several companies competed to have him as it was clear to them, he was a bright student and one that

could make them shine.

He turned down offers by big corporations; Intel, Bell Labs and Andersen Consulting and opted to work for Fitel, a telecommunication start-up where he was debugging lines of codes.

He rose to head of development and director of customer service post in a short while, trying all he could to grow the start-up.

In 1988, he then moved to Banker’s Trust and began building systems to manage investment funds after working at Fitel for over 2 years.

Bezos hopped yet again in 1990 to join D.E. Shaw, an investment management firm in New York to become a computer specialist. He rose up the ranks in four years to become one of the company’s Vice President in 1992.

In 1993, taking advantage of the growing breeze of the Internet and a genuine belief in it, Bezos thought of starting an online bookstore.

He had earlier made a list of 20 products that could be sold online; books seemed to top the bargain. He proposed to D.E Shaw to try it out but they couldn’t.

Despite rising to the senior vice president position, his desire for a virtual bookstore was greater. He quit the lucrative job to pursue his dream.

Having written his business plan while on a plane from New York to Seattle in 1994, he named the business Cadabra Incorporation but renamed it a few months later to Amazon; the biggest river in the world. He was ready to build the biggest bookstore in the world.

A day before launching, Bezos and his software engineer surveyed the 400 square meters garage, his first distribution center where Amazon.com would run from wondering how it would feel. The engineer commented,

“Can’t figure out if this is incredibly optimistic or hopelessly pathetic.”

It had taken them about a year to build the software infrastructure for Amazon.com and neither he nor the engineer knew how their customers would adopt to the new technology as early as July 1995.

Despite accepting about $300,000 investment from his parents, Bezos prepared them for the possible failure of his business; a 70% chance. The money was a huge fraction of their savings and he wanted to keep their relationship intact regardless of how Amazon turned out.

 

Learning To Grow Amazon

Within the first 30 days of operation, Amazon scored orders from all the states in USA and 47 different countries, something Bezos and his ten employees weren’t prepared for.

They did their ordinary jobs at the start-up during the day and throughout afternoon prepared the orders.

With poor distribution structures, everyone in the company got on their knees to pack the orders after which Bezos rushed them to UPS and waited until the last piece was checked in.

Seeing his clients’ appreciation for his services, Bezos moved the start-up into a 2000 square foot basement warehouse space.

He respected every idea that came from his employees and learned a lot of lessons.

At one time while packing orders from the floor, he suggested that they needed knee pads to secure their knees from the hard concrete floor. To his amazement, his employee suggested that packing tables would do better.

The following day he purchased the tables, doubling their productivity. To his surprise, by the second month, sales hit an unexpected $20,000 per week.

Bezos had the desire to grow Amazon by expanding to include other products; this required a lot of innovation and money. Guided by the then Amazon motto,

‘Get Big Fast’

Bezos started the process of seeking capital through IPO and went public in May 1997 raising $54 million. With imitators emerging from all corners, he invested the money realized in buying off competitors and complementary businesses over the next few years.

Despite taking the courageous step to go public, Bezos warned the investors that he didn’t expect Amazon to make any profit in the next 5 years.

This scared off a number of would-be shareholders but not the risk takers like Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO, Warren Buffet who Bezos later maintained as a close friend.

1998 saw Amazon venture into consumer goods and online sale of music and video as Bezos began to invest in a variety of assets to reduce risks.

He also revamped the business on technology, new initiatives and anything else that made business sense to Amazon.

This included investing $250,000 on 3.3 million shares from Google, a tech giant that turned out to be his occasional rival. By 2017, the shares were worth about $3.1 billion.

In 1999, Time Magazine named Bezos as ‘1999 Person of the year’, it was clear, Amazon had taken the lead in online retailing and any competitor had no place in the online buyers’ mind.

 

Growing Amazon By Invention

 

In 2001, Bezos announced that Amazon had recorded its first profit of one penny per share or $5 million but the dot-com bubble came crashing, forcing the online retail giant to shed off 1500 employees.

Fearing the thought of bankruptcy, Bezos borrowed $2 billion from a few banks. He focused on business model diversification bringing to birth Amazon Marketplace which let customers sell their used products.

Following Bezos’ ingenious move, Amazon bounced back to life in 2003 recording a $400 million profit. The next two years would see the firm record revenues of $6.9 billion in 2004 and $8.5 in 2005 making clear Bezos thought on taking risks.

“Whatever it is you want to do, there is going to be a risk in your life and risk is a necessary component of progress.”

Borrowing money to save his dream business paid off!

In the process of adding to the initiatives, the Amazon Prime Program, a 2-day shipping within the USA for an annual fee of $79 was born and soon soared. Seeing its success, Bezos pushed the program to UK, Germany, Canada, France, Italy and Japan within the next 8 years.

Other initiatives included; Amazon Kindle, a light-weight device for reading e-books in 2007 and Kindle Fire, a low-cost alternative to iPad in 2009. By mid-2010, Kindle and e-book sales hit $2.38 billion increasing e-book sales by 200% a year.

Adding to his portfolio while alleviating single point of failure, Bezos bought The Washington Post, an American major daily newspaper for $250 million in 2013.

Having been named as the largest online shopping retailer in the world in October, Bezos announced in early December his new initiative that was still on an experimental level, ‘Amazon Prime Air’.

He planned to use drones to deliver items of up to 5 pounds within a 10-mile distance of the Amazon’s distribution store. He insisted that it would take up to 5 years to see it come to pass.

In 2014, Amazon studios focused on developing TV series, distributing and producing films from online submissions made a huge name for the company. That year, the revenue shot to $88.8 billion.

2016 saw Bezos make two separate sales of his holdings in Amazon; in May he sold over 1 million shares raising $671 million and another 1 million at $756.7 million in August. In the following year, he hired 130,000 new employees to work across Amazon’s distribution centers.

With his wealth tied to Amazon’s performance in the stock market, Bezos, on several occasions in 2018 was named as the World’s richest man leaving behind the second richest person by at least $50 billion.

He owns about 16% of Amazon with each share going for over $1,800 and growing with the release of 36 hours of global shopping event for Prime members, Amazon Prime Day 2018.

Besides Amazon, Bezos invests in young companies such as hospitality services Airbnb, 3D printer manufacturing MakerBot, healthcare scheduling ZocDoc and publisher Business Insider.

Running Amazon isn’t the easiest thing in the face of growing technology and imitators who would do anything to see Bezos fall. To keep Amazon on top, Bezos has to continue inventing,

“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”

Late 2000, Bezos founded Blue Origin to enable people to visit space on a private basis.

With a deep interest in space since his childhood, Bezos desires to build shopping malls, hotels, amusements parks for interested people in space to save the Earth from resource depletion.

With the hope of transporting people into sub-orbital space by November 2018, Bezos priced the commercial spaceflight tickets at about $300,000 per person.

His thoughts on what business anyone should run

“Focus on what you are passionate about. You can’t follow the fashion.”

https://youtu.be/T_P1D_H1et8

 

Philanthropy

Bezos’ prefers to have his philanthropic activities helping people at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.

Though many times he has been accused of not giving in proportion to his net worth like other billionaires, he gives to charity from time to time.

In 2011, Bezos and his wife donated $15 million aimed at building Bezos Centre for Neural Circuit dynamics at Princeton Neuroscience Institute.

The following year, they contributed $2.5 million in support of a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington State through his employee who was in favor of the referendum only asked for up to $200,000.

During the first quarter of 2017, Bezos gave $35 million to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to enable the center to hire more researchers to help create better approaches to curing cancer. In the second quarter, he gave $1 million to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In 2018, he donated $33 million to TheDream.Us, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing undocumented immigrants living in the US under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with college scholarships.

 

Net Worth

From as early as 1999, Bezos’ net worth hit $10.1 billion according to Forbes and with a number of fluctuations later shot up to $8.7 billion in 2007.

In 2015, Bezos ranked 5th among the richest people in the world with $58.8 billion as Amazon took the leading position among online retailing stores.

Since then, he has climbed up the ladder past other billionaires with the rise of Amazon’s share value.

Early in 2018, Bezos was said to have earned $230,000 every single minute as clients around the globe purchased products from the online retail store.

As of 8th August 2018, Bezos’ net worth stood at $139.5 billion retaining the position of ‘The richest person in the world’.

He is the first person to top the $100 billion net worth mark.

Here His Top Rules:

 

Early Life

Jeffery Preston Bezos (initially Jorgensen) was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, USA. At the time of his birth his parents Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and his biological father, Ted Jorgensen were married but divorced less than two years later.

Identified as a smart child with the remarkable gift in handling tools, he once dismantled his crib using a screwdriver.

At the age of 4, his mother married Miguel ‘Mike’ Bezos, a Cuban immigrant who legally adopted him and a while later the family moved to Houston, Texas.

Miguel got a job as an engineer at Exxon, an oil and natural resources company after earning his degree from the University of New Mexico.

From the fourth to sixth grade, Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary School in Houston. During summer holidays in his youth, Bezos would visit his maternal grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise at his ranch in Cotulla, Texas.

He spent most of his time assisting his grandfather in various chores including laying pipes, fixing windmills and vaccinating animals.

At 12, Bezos built the ‘infinity cube’, a toy with motorized mirrors reflecting images endlessly.

Always picking a mechanical project and ensuring it was completed with success, he went on to build robots and other small gadgets until his bedroom was packed with such.

At this point, his parents asked him to move his ‘workshop’ to the garage. His love for scientific exploration led him to make an alarm for his bedroom door that was aimed at keeping his two younger siblings; Christina and Mark away.

Being an avid reader and lover of science fiction stories, Bezos was happy to be grounded; it gave him adequate quiet time to read. He visited local libraries and read almost every sci-fi storybook he could find.

Bezos family moved to Miami, Florida where he attended Palmetto Senior School where he was invited to participate in the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida.

At 18, he won a Silver Knight Award. Bezos was valedictorian of his class and a National Merit scholar; he went on to join Princeton University with the aim of pursuing Physics.

Though he was interested in space exploration, Bezos gave it up to pursue computer science and engineering where he created a few software programs. He graduated top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and came second in computer science in 1986.

Personal Life

While working for D.E. Shaw in New York in 1992, Bezos met MacKenzie Tuttle, a novelist who was a research associate in the same company.

Despite having studied at Princeton University around the same time, Bezos had never met MacKenzie.

He married her in 1993 and together moved to Seattle where Bezos founded the online retail store, Amazon.

Together with his wife, they have four children; 3 sons and a daughter they adopted from China.

CEO of Amazon.com Jeff Bezos and family attend the premiere of Paramount Pictures’ “Star Trek Beyond” at Embarcadero Marina Park South on July 20, 2016 in San Diego, California.

Bezos, an extrovert with an ability to make a speech in no time, values family and depends on his wife to create a stable family life. He believes in work-life harmony, a case where work and home life are unified; each attuning and informing the other.

While hiring, Bezos considers if the person has admirable traits, can change the status quo and has exemplary aspects of operating.

He is keen on acquiring the best talent and focuses on people who deliver. He says,

“Life is too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful”,

an aspect he emphasizes both at work and at home.

He appreciates people around him, making open praise about them, “Couldn’t ask for a better partner” referring to Best Buys CEO, Hubert Joly.

“You shaped us, you protected us, you let us fall, you picked us up, and you LOVED us, always and unconditionally. Thank you for everything. I love you, Mom.”,

“Thank you to all the Amazonians who made it happen.” referring to Amazon employees who packed Amazon plane with critical supplies for donation.

Following Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts on life,

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Bezos is often identified as the CEO with the loudest laugh and one who is working to leave the world a better place.

 

 

 

 

References

Early years bio: https://www.investopedia.com/university/jeff-bezos-biography/jeff-bezos-early-life-and-education.asp, https://www.biography.com/people/jeff-bezos-9542209
Life and career: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Bezos
Net worth: http://time.com/money/5334441/amazon-jeff-bezos-net-worth-prime-day-2018/, https://www.forbes.com/profile/jeff-bezos/#37ecaf111b23
Amazon store: https://www.webcitation.org/65rP9SPPk?url=http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/bez0bio-1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlgkfOr_GLY
Family: https://www.celebfamily.com/technology/jeff-bezos.html

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